One Friday night in October, I went to bed early feeling exhausted from not sleeping well the prior night. Perhaps my body knew what was ahead and that I would need my rest. I just finished a session of my hypnobabies home study, practicing my relaxation techniques for an “easy and comfortable childbirth” feeling confident and mentally prepared for the big day, which I hoped would be within the next 48 hours.
I was determined to get up the next morning and hike the hill to Council Crest (a park near our home overlooking the city) as I had been doing all week, in order to help get labor start, perhaps I’d even do it twice. I was only 1 cm dilated at my last OB appointment a few days earlier, no change from the prior week. Currently, I was 39 weeks, 4 days. Since I am 42, my doctor didn’t want me to go past 40 weeks, so I was scheduled to go to the hospital for an induction on Sunday at 4:00 p.m., something I wanted to avoid in order to have the natural, unmedicated childbirth that I had prepared for. My first child, five years earlier, was a scheduled C-section due to her being breech. So, I had never experienced labor before and was preparing for a VBAC, which I felt I’d be more successful at if I wasn’t induced.
At 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, I remember getting up to go to the bathroom. Shortly after getting back into bed, I felt what I later would realize was my first contraction around 1:15 a.m. It was intense enough with a lot of lower pelvis pressure that it made me jump out of bed with the urge to use the bathroom again. After it passed, I got back into bed and laid in child pose position with pillows stacked under my chest and head. This always seemed to be a comfortable position for me to give baby room to move. It likely was about 20 minutes later that I felt another contraction and perhaps 15 minutes after that, another that again made me want to get out of bed with the urge to use the bathroom.
I stayed in the bathroom for awhile, likely 2 to 3 more strong contractions that seemed 8 to 10 minutes apart. At that point, I decided I should time the contractions and start listening to my hypnobabies tracks to start getting more relaxed, since the contractions were pretty intense. I went upstairs to get my iPhone and start my “contraction counter” app. While I was up there, I had another strong contraction that I tried to ride out in child’s pose position, but my body said I needed to squat and I continued to feel all the lower pelvis pressure and squatting over the toilet was the only thing that felt possible. At that time, it was 2:34 a.m. (which I later determined by looking at my contraction counter App).
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I started my hypnobabies “birthing day” track with earphones sitting on the toilet and the next contraction started 6 minutes later at 2:40 a.m. It was so intense that I couldn’t sit in a comfortable position and “go to my special place” as the voice on the hypnobabies track was instructing me. I realized I definitely was in labor and I would need to re-think my pain management plan since the contractions were so intense.
The next was 7 minutes later, and they were all lasting one minute. At that point I realized I was bleeding and that I was in labor. Eric, my husband, had gotten up around then to see what was going on and I told him we most certainly were having our baby that day. He said he’d finish getting our bags together, which were primarily packed and suggested I take a shower. I thought that was a good idea to take the edge off the contractions and help me relax. The last contraction I timed was at 2:52 a.m., 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute. I had two more contractions while in the shower which made me place my hands on my thighs and somewhat squat while the water hit my back. I started moaning. The water did temporarily seem to relax me. I told Eric around then to call Labor and Delivery at the hospital and say we’ll be in soon since it appeared to me then labor was progressing fast. Contractions started coming what appeared to be 2 to 3 minutes apart and then 1 minute apart, which brought me to my knees. My moans turned into screams and a very large clot of blood passed with additional bleeding.
The shower became too intense, between contractions I asked Eric to get me a towel (“anything besides a white one!”) and I told him we had to go and to go tell Mom, who had been staying with us for the past week anticipating me going into labor, that we were leaving. I’m guessing it was about 3:15 a.m. at that point. During that minute between contractions, I managed to get dressed. I then suddenly had the urge to sit on the toilet again, feeling the need to have a bowel movement or perhaps this was the overall need to push. As the contraction got stronger, I could hardly sit on the toilet and I just squatted.
At that time, I realized there was no possible way I could get in the car for the 12 to 15 minute ride to the hospital. When Eric came back down I told him I needed more time, as I made it through another contraction. After yet another intense contraction, I told Eric I felt the baby coming. I told him he needed to call 9-1-1 and asked if he could look between my legs and see anything. He said no, and later told me he thought I was overreacting, and in his calm nature, encouraged me to come with him and get in the car. After yet another intense contraction and feeling the pushing, I reached between my legs and felt my water sack bulging out. At that point I yelled at Eric to call 9-1-1, saying she is coming, pointing out the water sack.
He quickly got on the phone to the 9-1-1 operator and was back in the bathroom listening to the operator’s instructions. The operator told him to get me off the toilet and on the floor on my back. Squatting was the only position that felt possible and the idea of lying on my back seemed impossible. I continued to squat as the contractions came every 1 to 2 minutes. Eric calmly, but firmly, insisted I get on my back, I managed to compromise and lie on my right side. Eric got me a pillow and yelled for my Mom to bring down some clean towels, which he went and grabbed from her and asked her to look out for the EMT vehicle and make sure they find the house.
He was back and tucking a towel under my hips. I remember feeling peace then that I didn’t have to make that ride to the hospital. I could feel she was coming through each contraction. The 9-1-1 operator told Eric to tell me not to push, but that was impossible, pushing was relief and the baby and my body was in control now. I heard Eric say to the 9-1-1 operator, he was putting the phone on speaker and sitting it down. He glanced away for just a second and when he glanced back her head and shoulders were out, he caught the rest of her as she slipped out. I felt such huge relief at that moment, but only for a second, realizing I didn’t hear her cry, but she was out and all the intensity was over. The 9-1-1 operator told us later it was 3:39 a.m. when he heard Eric say, “she was out.” That was only 45 minutes after I had stepped in the shower. Maeve Elise had made her arrival.
Within moments the Endorphin rush was settling in and I sat up to help Eric clean out the mucus from her nose and mouth. Eric listened to the 9-1-1 operator’s instructions to flick the heals, which he did. She soon started whimpering with a soft cry. We cleaned her with another towel rubbing her body to warm her up. It was about that time that the closet and bathroom filled up with what appeared to be eight fireman and EMT personnel.
The EMT clamped the chord and Eric cut it. I was soon doing skin to skin with Maeve, relaxing on the bathroom floor, all covered in blankets as they discussed the easiest way to transport me up the stairs to the ambulance. Maeve latched easily to nurse, like a real champ and my heart grew just watching her and holding her close. I soon was on my way to the hospital in the ambulance with Maeve, Eric followed in his car. At the hospital, I discovered I had some fairly serious internal and external tears that I didn’t even realize (endorphins are a good thing) and the doctor stitched me up while Maeve got checked out and weighed. She weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz and was 21.5 inches.
I was up walking around about an hour later, feeling amazing and loving my new baby girl. We stayed one night in the hospital and were able to go home then next morning. I healed quickly from my tears with only mild discomfort. Looking back on the whole experience, it seems so surreal. Labor was more intense than I expected, but certainly faster then any usual labor. I have had two beautiful birthing experiences and I wouldn’t change a thing about either of them. I feel so blessed.
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